SE Asia Stocks-Thai shares lag amid political worry; Singapore posts best gain in 6 mths
BANGKOK, March 24 (Reuters) - Thai stocks closed at their two-week lows on Monday amid rising political tensions and selling led by domestic investors, while the Singapore index posted its best gain in six months amid buying in recently battered banking and property shares. The Thai SET index closed 0.78 percent lower at 1,349.90, its lowest finish since March 10. Consumer and tourism-related shares such as Charoen Pokphand Foods and Airport of Thailand were among the top percentage losers. The baht bucked the regional trend and fell on renewed worries about political unrest after the constitutional court nullified last month's election. The move increased downside risks to Thailand's economic growth outlook and heightened the risks of more widespread and violent protest by anti- and pro-government groups, Moody's Investors Service said. "This development is credit negative for Thailand (Baa1, stable) because the four-month old political crisis could spill over into the second half of this year," the rating agency said in a report. Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand resumed street protests on Monday after lying low for weeks, piling pressure on increasingly beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is expected to face impeachment within days. Domestic institutions and retail investors were net sellers of Thai shares for a combined 1.35 billion baht ($41.70 million), while foreign investors were net buyers of 941 million baht ($29 million), their first in three sessions, Thomson Reuters data showed. Singapore was the bright spot, with the key Straits Times Index climbing 1.25 percent, its biggest one-day rise since Sept. 19. DBS Group Holdings and Hongkong Land Holdings led gainers. Shares of banks and property firms have been badly hit due to selling related to concerns about the weak outlook in China. "The risk is not as bad as people feel and probably the recent selling due to concerns about China could be overdone... The buying today should be a combination of short covering on banking stocks and fresh buying or bottom fishing on banking and property shares," said an analyst with UOB Kay Hian Research in Singapore. Stocks in Malaysia rose to their highest in more than two weeks, the Philippines ended three sessions of falls, and Indonesia eked out gains for a second session amid foreign investors-led buying. Stock exchange and Thomson Reuters data showed net foreign buying of 186 million ringgits ($56.22 million) of Malaysian shares, 307 million pesos ($6.78 million) of the Philippines and 268 billion rupiahs ($23.5 million) of Indonesia. For Asian Companies click; For South East Asia Hot Stock reports, click; SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS Change on day Market Current Prev Close Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 402.06 400.06 +0.50 Singapore 3111.83 3073.39 +1.25 Kuala Lumpur 1833.85 1820.48 +0.73 Bangkok 1349.90 1360.50 -0.78 Jakarta 4720.42 4700.21 +0.43 Manila 6400.67 6339.26 +0.97 Ho Chi Minh 607.55 601.75 +0.96 Change on year Market Current End 2013 Pct Move TR SE Asia Index* 402.06 388.37 +3.52 Singapore 3111.83 3167.43 -1.76 Kuala Lumpur 1833.85 1866.96 -1.77 Bangkok 1349.90 1298.71 +3.94 Jakarta 4720.42 4274.18 +10.44 Manila 6400.67 5889.83 +8.67 Ho Chi Minh 607.55 504.63 +20.40 * The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index is a highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ($1 = 3.3085 Malaysian Ringgits) ($1 = 45.3000 Philippine Pesos) ($1 = 11422.5000 Indonesian Rupiahs) ($1 = 32.3725 Thai Baht) (Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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